BECAUSE IT IS BEST FOR OUR CLIENTS
The public social media sites of jurors are fair game for lawyers—so says the ABA. The American Bar Association says it is ethical for lawyers to search through the publicly available information supplied by potential jurors via social media.
This decision doesn’t change a whole lot for citizens called for jury duty, but what it does mean is that lawyers will be able to see any publicly available information on social media that might be helpful for disqualifying a juror.
Lawyers are not, however, given the green light to break down firewalls or privacy protections, and they are not suppose to use “friend requests” as a pretense to getting access to information.
Some may think that this new capability adds more work, but really this is just one more tool in an existing process. Lawyers already look for touch stones that tell them about jurors, and access to publicly shared social media posts will just provide more information.
Prior to the age of technology, lawyers took notice of what potential jurors brought to occupy themselves as they waited, whether it was magazines, books, knitting, etc. Today with social media, there is no difference in the types of things that lawyers are looking at within the available public information. Lawyers are looking to see what potential jurors are interested in and what their opinions are.
While doing juror selection, it’s all about the data. The more data available, the better the lawyers can estimate what opinions jurors may have, and what decisions the juror and jury may make. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter posts just add more data to the mix, and allow for more in-depth analysis.